The Road Not Traveled

Birthday’s been good so far. Mellow. Not much to report. But being a “woman of leisure” at the moment reminded me of the time I actually lost a job ON my birthday. My 30th birthday. About an hour before the party. Doesn’t that just take the cake?

I’d auditioned to cohost a series called “Road Trip” for the Travel Channel. The premise was simple. A guy and a girl get in a convertible and drive cross country. The production company had already found their guy and shot the pilot with a solo host. But the Travel Channel though the series needed a sidekick so they asked the crew to find a woman. They found me.

We spent a day reshooting the pilot – if I remember correctly – from Long Island to Queens. It went alright. I’m not much of a “turn it on for the cameras” personality. I’m better just being me. So the process of take after take to get multiple camera angles of the same shot was tedious. Plus, I’m better off-the-cuff than reciting script that’s masquerading as spontaneous dialogue. It’s why I never got into acting. Not my thing. Therefore, by the end of the day, I was less Road Trip more Road Kill.

A couple of days later I went out to the production house to take a look at the raw cut. In retrospect, I didn’t love it, but I was under the impression that Pilot 2.0 was more of a proof of concept than a proof of me. The whole process was awkward, and it was clear both cast and crew needed to work out the kinks. Messy but not insurmountable.

Then it got quiet. For days. And on my 30th birthday, I got the call. I remember being on the street in the East Village when my cellphone rang, and a lower level producer informed me that Road Trip was a go but going without me. They ended up hiring an actress – a Broadway actress – to cruise shotgun cross country.

Yeah, it was a bummer. Huge bummer. And I can’t even say it was for the better because where’s the real downside in getting paid to see the country? But if you believe in things happening for a reason, then the lost series are just as important as the ones that stick. And had I caught that ride, who knows where I would have been when CNN came calling? If the pilot was any indication, I would have been somewhere like this.

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